Donald Trump is using his executive authority far more aggressively than Obama ever did. He is not just circumventing Democrats. On health care, he is circumventing the entire GOP. Republicans in Congress, their special interest friends and think tank supporters have shown almost no enthusiasm for any of this. On the Hill, there have been no hearings. No legislation. No briefings. Not even a speech or two. In the meantime, the Trump administration is reforming the entire health care system. John Goodman and Lawrence Wedekind describe the changes in a two-part post at Forbes. More at:
One of the nation’s leading authorities on Social Security says the system is sending out faulty information to workers, who are trying to plan for their retirement. Social Security told one worker that if he retired at age 66 he would get the monthly benefit he would actually receive only if he waited until age 70. It told him that if he retired at age 62, he would get a benefit that would actually be paid only if he waited until age 66. Kotlikoff says he has confronted the Social Security administration with the mistakes and has not received a response. More at:
An Obama regulation stipulated that employers caught giving their employees pre-tax dollars to purchase their own coverage could be fined as much as $100 per day for each employee, or $36,500 a year. This was the highest penalty in all of Obamacare regulations. Thankfully, the Trump administration is eliminating this penalty and much more. Beginning next January, employers will be able to use HRAs to help employees obtain their own coverage with the administration’s blessing. More.
Gramm and Saving: Has the Fed lost the Ability to control Interest Rates?
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, former Sen. Phil Gramm and Goodman institute Senior Fellow Thomas Saving write “Never in the Fed’s 105-year history has it had less control over market interest rates than it has today…. To expect the Fed to hold interest rates above or below the market rate under these circumstances is not only naive but dangerous.” More.
What share of the tax cuts went to the rich and the poor? The richest 1 percent received 9.3 percent of the total tax cuts, but they were previously paying 30.2 percent of all the taxes. The top 20% received 52.2 percent of the tax cuts, but they were previously paying 80.1 percent of the taxes. The bottom 20% got 3.3 percent of the tax cuts. But previously they were not paying taxes at all. In fact they were receiving a 9.0 percent “refund.” More.
Nan Hayworth talks about media bias and how it is influencing voters. More.
Tom Saving has a new book called A Century of Federal Reserve Monetary Policy: Issues and Implications for the Future. View or order the book from Amazon.com..
In one case, an insurer prevented a woman from getting a CT scan her doctor ordered. In another, a mother couldn’t afford the full regimen of special bags needed to clear her cancer-stricken daughter’s lungs. In a third case, a woman lost her health insurance and could not afford end-of-life chemotherapy. These examples come from National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurses’ union. To prevent further incidents like these, the union favors a universal, government-run health care system. A lead editorial in the New York Times last week appeared to endorse their thinking. Here is what these folks are missing.
Kotlikoff: Social Security is Broke
Social Security’s annual Trustees Report just came out and it shows that Social Security ran a gigantic $9 trillion deficit between last year and this year. The system’s long-term unfunded liability is now $43 trillion, up from $34 trillion last year. More.
Employers are paying hospitals more than twice as much as what Medicare pays. At some hospitals they are paying four times as much. So, who’s to blame? John Goodman says employers are to blame. More.